With the weather still very cool for the middle of May, I changed my plans from fishing for tench. All the tench waters were very slow so I acted on a tip off from my mate Simon Ashton. He’d took the plunge and fished a 48 acre loch in the grounds of Lochnaw Castle after being told about the huge roach in there. I was getting regular texts about the 2 and even 3 pounders he was catching, so with a week off work, I booked a week there straight away.
The week I booked gave me exclusive access to the fishing in the loch and I also had full use of a lodge within the grounds. Because of this I took my girlfriend and her daughter, I know what you’re thinking, I do spoil her. Work commitments for all of us saw our week cut to 5 days, but that would still be plenty of time to get to grips with the roach.
The journey there was a disaster. 60 miles short of the 250 miles, the car spluttered and lost most of it’s power, leaving a long wait for our new transport, a tow truck! Instead of arriving for dawn we now arrived well after lunchtime, very tired. After a guided tour of the lake and estate from Kev, the guy who looks after the fishing, carting the car off to a local garage and getting a lift into the town of Stranraer for food, it was time to sleep as the days events took their toll. 5 days fishing would now be just 4. Still, the area and lake were as picture postcard as it gets. It felt great just being away from all the hustle and bustle of over populated areas.
My first angling of the trip saw me fishing in the area that had produced the big roach to Simon in the past. It was an area that had been raked into the heavy Canadian Pond-weed that engulfed most of the lake. Waggler fished caster brought just a few small perch so it was time to change tack. I’d been told 99% of the big roach get caught at night so I heavily baited with maggots, hemp, caster and sweetcorn. I then left the area till early evening to see if any fish had moved onto the feed. On my return I was into fish straight away, not big roach, but hordes of small rudd. I changed to a size 16 hook with 2 grains of corn under my waggler. This improved things slightly, the rudd were now 4 to 8oz in size. Just as the light faded I struck into a better fish. After carefully playing it, the first roach of the trip hit my net, a decent start at 2lb 1oz.
As darkness took over, I cast my feeder rods into the same area. It was bedlam as rudd after rudd mullered my double corn baits on size 16 hooks. I’d been told to expect this, but things quietened down slightly after midnight. At about 2am I struck into another bite and the heavy thumping being transmitted down the line told me that this was a good fish. I played it as hard as my 4lb line and 3lb hooklinks would allow. The sharp wind rock that formed the loch bed and the thick weed would punish any mistakes. Soon I had a large silver flank in the beam of my head torch and it slid straight into my net. It was obviously a big fish, but with daylight just a couple of hours away, I placed it in my keepnet without weighing it. I’d give it a number and photograph later.
I’d been told when the big fish move in you usually get a few. This time I had to settle for the one, though I lost another good fish that kited into the weed. I decided to up my gear to 6lb line and 4lb hook links for the rest of the trip. Then I could get them away from danger and the feeding area quickly. I did the honours with my roach, which didn’t look as big in daylight as it did in torch light. It was still big enough to pull the Reubens round to 3lb 2oz, truly a monster roach for anyone.
Being on your own private estate has many advantages. One of these was that I could simply leave my gear on the bank, ready to go that evening, and return to the lodge to do whatever we fancied. Prior to this though, I filled the swim in with plenty of goodies, hoping to draw more of those big roach into my swim.
The second night was a disaster. I was plagued by the small rudd and only caught one roach of around a pound. It also rained all night, soaking me and all my gear. I was also visited twice by an otter. The second time it came in my swim, it casually walked out of the water right next to my chair! I told it to clear off which it promptly did. I mulled things over on how to try and combat the small fish. They were taking 2 grains of corn on size 10 hooks. As the rain stopped and cloud broke, the sky cleared to reveal a stunning dawn. I didn’t feed the swim this time. I trudged back to the lodge, very wet and frustrated, to try and solve the puzzle.
The following evening I arrived at the water knowing it would be my last night. I’d thrown over £300 at my faulty car that turned out to have a blown turbo. Because the RAC had towed me to Lochnaw, they’d left a nice voicemail telling me that I’d have to cover any costs for being towed home. With that news I’d decided to cut my losses and head for home under my own steam at 11pm the following night, when the roads would be pretty empty.
I was determined to have a good last night and searched the lake with my marker rod. After finding some promising areas, I went back to the lodge to mull things over. My final decision was to stay where I was. Big roach had been in my swim 48 hours ago so chances were they wouldn’t be too far away. I went into the swim, cast out a waggler with some sweetcorn as bait and caught a rudd within seconds. I decided to gamble.
Just as dusk fell I hurled my weed rake into the swim over and over. I didn’t get much weed out, but it made a lot of noise and coloured the water. After I’d finished raking it was almost dark. I balled in a couple of kilos of Sonubaits Hemp and Hali crush. Then it was half a tin each of pineapple and tuti fruti flavoured corn. This time I didn’t put any hemp, casters or maggots out. I wanted to keep the swim free of small particles that might encourage the small fish to hang around. After these jobs were done, it was back to the lodge for my flask and a snack. I didn’t return until it was pitch black.
This time, after casting both rods out with double corn hook baits, there were no bites. This was bliss and part one of my plan had worked. I just hoped that any fish that did come along would be good ones. Just after midnight the Delkim on my left hand rod screeched into life. A gentle lift into solid resistance told me it was another big fish. Almost straight away the other Delk was away so I presumed the fish had crossed my other line. It was only when a big roach rolled 10 yards left of my swim that I realised I’d got two bites at once.
I bundled the first roach into the net just as the hook fell out, which saved me a job. For a brief moment I was going to play the other fish and land it in my net which still had the first roach in. I thought of the possible disaster and quickly placed an obviously big fish into my previously staked out keepnet. Lifting the other rod up confirmed my fears, that the fish had weeded itself. Steady pressure saw it come back out quite easily. I played it hard and seconds later was looking at a twin of the first fish. I was glad I’d changed to the heavy gear now.
I popped this straight into the keepnet along with the other. I’d decided to weigh them in daylight because it seemed like a shoal of good fish was in residence. Sadly, no more bites came until just after 2am when fish of 2.4 and 2.3 raised my spirits. Daylight came within the hour though, signalling the end of any more action. I’d caught a few good fish and my plan had worked so all what was left to do was give them numbers and take a few pics.The scales gave me 3lb 4oz and 2lb 12oz for the early brace. A fine way to end any trip I thought.
One last look at the castle over the calm, misty waters as I left put a large smile on my face. The pic will do the talking for me.